Ramblings & ephemera

Unix: An Oral History

From ‘s “Unix: An Oral History” (: ): Multics Gordon M. Brown … [Multics] was designed to include fault-free continuous operation capabilities, convenient remote terminal access and selective information sharing. One of the most important features of Multics was to follow the trend towards integrated multi-tasking and permit multiple programming environments and different human interfaces […]

Microsoft Exchange is expensive

From Joel Snyder’s “Exchange: Should I stay or should I go?” (Network World: 9 March 2009): There are many ways to buy Exchange, depending on how many users you need, but the short answer is that none of them cost less than about $75 per user and can run up to $140 per user for […]

More on Google’s server farms

From Joel Hruska’s “The Beast unveiled: inside a Google server” (Ars Technica: 2 April 2009): Each Google server is hooked to an independent 12V battery to keep the units running in the event of a power outage. Data centers themselves are built and housed in shipping containers (we’ve seen Sun pushing this trend as well), […]

Google’s server farm revealed

From Nicholas Carr’s “Google lifts its skirts” (Rough Type: 2 April 2009): I was particularly surprised to learn that Google rented all its data-center space until 2005, when it built its first center. That implies that The Dalles, Oregon, plant (shown in the photo above) was the company’s first official data smelter. Each of Google’s […]

How ARP works

From Chris Sanders’ “Packet School 201 – Part 1 (ARP)” (Completely Full of I.T.: 23 December 2007): The basic idea behind ARP is for a machine to broadcast its IP address and MAC address to all of the clients in its broadcast domain in order to find out the IP address associated with a particular […]

An analysis of Google’s technology, 2005

From Stephen E. Arnold’s The Google Legacy: How Google’s Internet Search is Transforming Application Software (Infonortics: September 2005): The figure Google’s Fusion: Hardware and Software Engineering shows that Google’s technology framework has two areas of activity. There is the software engineering effort that focuses on PageRank and other applications. Software engineering, as used here, means […]

How the Greek cell phone network was compromised

From Vassilis Prevelakis and Diomidis Spinellis’ “The Athens Affair” (IEEE Spectrum: July 2007): On 9 March 2005, a 38-year-old Greek electrical engineer named Costas Tsalikidis was found hanged in his Athens loft apartment, an apparent suicide. It would prove to be merely the first public news of a scandal that would roil Greece for months. […]

The X Window System defined

From Ellen Siever’s “What Is the X Window System” (O’Reilly Media: 25 August 2005): X was intentionally designed to provide the low-level mechanism for managing the graphics display, but not to have any control over what is displayed. This means that X has never been locked into a single way of doing things; instead, it […]

His employer’s misconfigured laptop gets him charged with a crime

From Robert McMillan’s “A misconfigured laptop, a wrecked life” (NetworkWorld: 18 June 2008): When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued Michael Fiola a Dell Latitude in November 2006, it set off a chain of events that would cost him his job, his friends and about a year of his life, as he fought criminal charges that […]

What Dell learned from Wal-Mart

From Fake Steve Jobs’ “Why Dell will not bounce back” (11 May 2008): On the manufacturing side, Dell figured out faster than the others in its space how to squeeze component suppliers and play them off each other. They brought in loads of former Wal-Mart people to refine this practice. One example: If you want […]

Find out a hard drive’s UUID

If you want to add a device like an external hard drive to your /etc/fstab file, it helps if you know the hard drive’s UUID. If you use K/Ubuntu, the following command will display the UUID, along with other useful information. $ sudo vol_id /dev/sdo1 Password: ID_FS_USAGE=filesystem ID_FS_TYPE=ext3 ID_FS_VERSION=1.0 ID_FS_UUID=4857d4bb-5f6b-4f21-af62-830ebae92cff ID_FS_LABEL=movies ID_FS_LABEL_SAFE=movies

Change the AMD K8 CPU without authentication checks

From Bruce Schneier’s Crypto-Gram Newsletter (15 August 2004): Here’s an interesting hardware security vulnerability. Turns out that it’s possible to update the AMD K8 processor (Athlon64 or Opteron) microcode. And, get this, there’s no authentication check. So it’s possible that an attacker who has access to a machine can backdoor the CPU. [See http://www.realworldtech.com/forums/index.cfm?action=detail&id=35446&threadid=35446&roomid=11]

Remote fingerprinting of devices connected to the Net

Anonymous Internet access is now a thing of the past. A doctoral student at the University of California has conclusively fingerprinted computer hardware remotely, allowing it to be tracked wherever it is on the Internet. In a paper on his research, primary author and Ph.D. student Tadayoshi Kohno said: “There are now a number of […]